Bww Interview: Jennifer Weber Talks THE HIP HOP NUTCRACKER
Jennifer Weber, director/choreographer brings this holiday mash-up for the whole family, THE HIP HOP NUTCRACKER reimagines Tchaikovsky's classic score through explosive hip-hop choreography. A dozen all-star dancers, DJ Boo, MC and digital scenery bring the traditional Nutcracker story to life in a contemporary urban setting. THE HIP HOP NUTCRACKER is at Booth Playhouse at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, December 29-January 3. Tickets are on sale at Blumenthal Performing Arts Box Office: 704-372-1000.
Jennifer Weber, nominated for "Outstanding Emerging Choreographer" New York Dance and Performance Award (Bessie) in 2014, is founder and artistic director of Decadancetheatre based in Brooklyn. She has been crossing states on tour with THE HIP HOP NUTCRACKER. I caught up with Weber, while she was in New York.
LAW: How did this show come about?
JW: I had a meeting with co-creator, Mike Fitelson, [Executive Director of the United Palace of Cultural Arts], two years ago about another show I was producing through Decadancetheatre. At the end of our meeting, I was directing and choreographing Tchaikovsky with hip-hop.
LAW: How long is the tour?
JW: We started in November in Saint Paul and we will end January in Moscow.
LAW: What got you interested in dance and hip-hop?
JW: I've been interested in dance my whole life. I went to University of Pennsylvania. I would go to clubs there and I loved the club version of hip-hop. The dance style was so free.
LAW: Where did you train?
JW: In dance studios and clubs in Philadelphia, NYC and London.
LAW: What is this show about?
JW: The Hip Hop Nutcracker is a classic for a new generation. Between head spins to Tchaikovsky sound, it's so iconic with hip-hop and the music. The two are combined and match energy so well. It takes a lot to match the beats.
LAW: Is there live music?
JW: Yes, there's a violinist onstage with DJ Boo.
LAW: How many dancers are in the show?
JW: There are 11 dancers, tripling parts. It's a physically demanding show.
LAW: What was your best experience as a choreographer?
JW: Getting back to Ordway Center in Saint Paul. I was there 10 years ago with Firebird. I went from a 99-seat theater with that show in New York to a 2,000-seat theater at Ordway. That was a special experience. It felt like an amazing homecoming to be back there with The Hip Hop Nutcracker.
LAW: What was your worst experience as a choreographer?
JW: [Pause] The traveling, many hours not at home.
LAW: What will audiences take away from this show?
JW: It's an amazing show. This was a challenge, but the beauty that is created when the two worlds of hip-hop with the entire Tchaikovsky score collide, is amazing. And because of its popularity we have nine upcoming performances at Blumenthal.